More headlines … (2/12/09)

Items on our clients’ sites in recent days:

Redemptorist Fathers caught in Madoff ponzi scheme

Catholics under a new president

Prominent Catholic convert to deliver GOP response to Obama

What are we to think about the California woman who had eight babies?

Paper starts series on cancer patients and their families

Colleges offer help to financially strapped students

South African church in uproar over new English-language Mass translations

A furor has erupted in the South African Catholic Church over the first round of English-language changes in the Mass.

The Southern Cross, a southern African Catholic weekly newspaper, reports that clergy, liturgists and laity are up in arms about some of the new language being used during the constant parts of the Mass, saying the changes are confusing and fail to reflect the common usage of the English language and culture in the region.

Some commentators have said the changes fail to  recognize the different ways English is spoken. Many fear that similar confusion and anger will rise up in some of the 10 other English-speaking countries governed by the revisions should there be no recognition of language and cultural differences.

The Southern Cross has reported extensively on the changes and reaction to them in recent weeks. The newspaper also has devoted more space on its Web site to its bloggers, such as Jesuit Father Anthony Egan, and more space in its print version for opinion pieces, commentary and letters to the editor since the Dec. 1 changeover.

The changes, which the South African bishops put into effect the first Sunday of Advent, are among those being discussed by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.

The first round has been widely discussed by the committee and approved by the Vatican. But there are two more phases to go before the new English missal is finalized.

It seems that the bishops may have moved ahead a bit too quickly as the changes they put in place were to be withheld until the remaining translations are finalized. Those revisions are to be completed by November and submitted to the Vatican for approval then.

Final implementation of all the changes is set for Advent 2011 or 2012.

Bloggers and columnists suggest that the entire English-speaking world and the Vatican take note of what has transpired in southern Africa, lest similar upheavals result around the globe.

Lincoln’s connection to a Catholic high school

On the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the 16th president is getting a fair amount of attention.  Here in Washington,  people can visit Lincoln’s summer home or the theater where he was assassinated. There are also special events, exhibits and lectures about Lincoln at several Washington museums, and of course, at the Lincoln Memorial .

But another Washington spot with a lesser-known Lincoln connection is Jesuit-run Gonzaga College High School founded in 1821. A new book — set for release on the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth — details connections between the school and the president’s assassination. The 135-page book, “In the Web of History: Gonzaga College and the Lincoln Assassination” was written by Gonzaga graduate, Paul Warren. Proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the high school.

The book notes that Gonzaga parents and graduates had positive and not so positive roles in Lincoln’s assassination. The first policeman on the scene was the parent of a Gonzaga student. And Dr. John Frederick May, a Gonzaga alum, treated Lincoln in his final moments and also identified the corpse of his assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

On the not so positive side: A Gonzaga graduate, David Herold, was hanged for his involvement in the assassination plot, and a Gonzaga parent owned the stable where Booth boarded his horses.

Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where the conspirators met, was also connected, although not as directly, to the  Jesuit high school. According to a column about the book in The Washington Post, Surratt’s sons had been taught in southern Maryland by the priest who was president of Gonzaga at the time of the assassination. That priest, Jesuit Father Bernardin Wiget, was said to have heard Surratt’s confession prior to escorting her to be hanged.

According to the book, the priest also had another role. When word got out that a wheelbarrow with the word “Gonzaga” on it was found behind the Surratt house, he was said to have quietly ordered that it be removed.

The economy and religious investors

The Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, which announced last week that it intends to judge publicly traded corporations in part now on how environmentally friendly they are, has — like many organizations and companies — a descriptive  paragraph about it and its work in its press releases.

ICCR describes itself as “a coalition of nearly 300 faith-based institutional investors representing over $100 billion in invested capital.” That was the same wording, including the dollar figure, that ICCR used last year before the financial markets had their meltdown. So, does the center’s investment team know something the rest of the market players don’t?

“We’ve not taken a census of our members. Faith-based institutions have not been required to report” their holdings, said Leslie Lowe, director of  ICCR’s “Energy and the Environment” program.

“We’re having our annual meeting in June,” Lowe added. “Maybe we’ll ask that question (then).”